Beijing's Olympic Stadium fascinates even more due to its brilliant red coat
Beijing's new landmark is unmistakable. Well before the Summer Games from 8th to 24th August 2008 the Olympic Stadium became Beijing's showpiece and a magnet to the public. The National Stadium, designed by the renowned Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron, is situated on slightly elevated ground in the centre of the Olympic Complex in the north of Beijing. Droves of visitors make the pilgrimage to the stadium, which is affectionately known as the "Bird's Nest", to take a look at the architectonic masterpiece.
A well-known aspect of projects from Herzog & de Meuron is that they particularly take into account the materials and the application of new building solutions. This also applied to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing both during the "creative" as well as in the realisation phase and, of course, it included the colour design too.
Innovative special coating
Here, Caparol was not an unfamiliar partner for the architects. "We have already had close and successful co-operation with the Swiss architects for the Munich Allianz Arena," reports Reinhard Franz, Manager of the Planning and Property Service. And so it was not really a surprise when the architects turned again to Caparol, as the Beijing stadium needed a very special, brilliant red coat of paint. All wall surfaces are coated with this paint which shines out from behind the nest-like steel mesh of the facade. The paint therefore makes an important contribution to the character and the external appearance of the new landmark. "The fact that we finally obtained the order was not just due to us being able to convince Herzog & de Meuron of the suitability of our product, but rather it was also due to the high level of professional competence shown by our own local branch," says Andreas Gradinger, Head of Planning and Property Management.
The "new" red was to a large extent produced in Beijing and also the application was carried out almost exclusively by Chinese specialists. However, further expertise was required from Germany. Once the construction work had progressed so far that the painting of the 90,000 square metres of wall area could begin in July 2007, technical instruction was provided for the workers. For this task a team of four was assembled from the Caparol headquarters in the town of Ober-Ramstadt in southern Hesse, also including the application technician, Henrich Bombala. Together with colleagues from the Caparol Company in China, they headed for Beijing for the three-week training session for the painters. "I get around quite lot, but I had never experienced a construction site of this size," remembers Bombala. "There must have been about 10,000 people swarming around."
Working round the clock
The painting work was supervised over the complete implementation period by four application technicians from Caparol (Shanghai), who together with Project Manager Ronald Bobe provided an on-site presence around the clock to ensure the trouble-free progress of the work. "During the painting work the highest quality demands had to be satisfied," reports Bobe. No simple task with such a sophisticated coating. The substrate consists primarily of concrete or cement fibre boards which, due to unevenness in construction, are first covered with a mesh and have to be filled. Then, a further surfacing layer was applied with a toothed trowel and a glass fleece was inlaid to give the surfaces additional smoothness. After two days of drying time the surfaces were finally equalised, sanded down and washed with water. Only then could the actual paint application start. For this stage of the work the brilliant red special coating was applied twice using efficient spray techniques. The desired level of gloss for the coating was developed specially for the project in co-operation with Herzog & de Meuron.
Lasting clean surfaces
For this prestige building the customer required a coating which could stand up to the extreme climate and the environmental conditions prevailing in Beijing, bear the mechanical stresses of the expected level of use by the public and also represented the current optimum in retaining a clean appearance. This is where a research project at the Dr. Robert Murjahn Institute (RMI) in Ober-Ramstadt came to bear in which various coatings were examined for soiling as well as resistance to light and weathering. The objective was to find the best materials for environmental and light-resistant coatings. The special paint, developed in this way and chosen against tough international competition with numerous products from various manufacturers, "has along with the obligatory optimum physical properties of durability, low soiling and high mechanical stress-resistance, also very high light-fastness. Without this light-fastness the durability of the generally problematical shade of 'red' cannot be guaranteed," reports the Manager of the RMI, Dr. Engin Bagda. The special paint for the stadium in Beijing is particularly characterised in terms of durability, resistance to weathering, non-fade shade stability and cleanliness. It will now be offered internationally under the designation of "Amphibolin".
The Caparol experts are justifiably quite proud that their capabilities were also in demand for this prestige project. "After all, we were one of two German companies which had received an order for the construction of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing and were able to supply material for a complete section of the work," says Bobe.
Jacques Herzog hopes that "this structure will be for Beijing what the Eiffel Tower is for Paris." In any case it is certainly a permanent landmark which has been chosen as one of ten architectonic masterpieces of 2007. But this must be only the start of numerous further awards.